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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by blues, Aug 13, 2002.
I am just wondering if I am the only one here who did horribly on the writing sample for the MCAT?
Out with it...(on a J-T scale) how much damage are we talking here?
I didn't do horribly, but I did much worse than I thought I did. Not that the writing section matters much anyways.
Ouch... Well I got a M !
Did you do well overall? Maybe your verbal score can help redeem you.
No, I wish I did... I have a very disparate score:
PS:13, BS:13, V:8, Essay:M..
I also got an M. M is the most common score (although it is lower than the median score) for the writing sample. At an interview I was asked why I scored an M. I told them that I felt I followed the instructions given and wrote a coherent, concise essay and I have no idea why I received an M. The interviewer responded that she had no idea why they even have such a section on the MCAT. I was accepted. This was at Mayo.
I don't think the M will hurt you too much.
MPP, That's Really Encouraging!
I am not sure why I received an M either. I haven't done spectacularly in my English classes, but I have done well. I thought I wrote a coherent, well-organized. et cetera... type essay.
I did poorly on the essay too, but it's my own fault. I had heard that schools don't care much about the essay, and I knew that I certainly didn't care much about the essay, so I blew it off. I didn't prepare for it in any way, and when the time came I spent the minimum amount of time and verbiage necessary to complete the task. I used the extra time to relax and prepare myself for the remainder of the test.
Excuse me while I rant a moment. The essay questions are ridiculous. Why they would ask us to stop in the middle of a stressful science test to write an elaborate essay both supporting and opposing some bull$#!t idea for which the majority us have no opinion one way or the other is beyond me. As a doctor you will have to write short telegraphic notes and orders. I don't think you will need to wax poetic on some uninteresting statement to the effect that a strong leader must sometimes follow the lead of others or whatever other nonsense the testmakers write. Just say no to MCAT essays!
From my experience, it is true that schools don't care about essay scores. I was accepted at 3 of the 4 schools to which I applied despite my apparent inability to write an essay (acording to the MCAT).
Some schools, i.e. UW-Madison, actually give favor to high scores (R, S, T). But most schools it seems do not.
I also received an M despite writing the essay in the way I was taught by my Kaplan instructor. I did fine in my verbal however and I have done well in all of my writing classes so I don't consider that M truly representative of my abilities. You shouldn't either!
Don't worry, I also didn't do wonderfully on the writing. I got in the high 30's and a beautiful N. It seems most schools don't care about it but if I get rejected anywhere pre-secondary, I'll have to wonder...
I know this was a rant, so my comments are not directed soley at this paragraph. But I thought it would be a good place to start.
I think the essay is a great idea. Interrupting a stressful science test is exactly the right time to test how well people can articulate ideas verbally. It tests how well you can shift gears, and then shift back again. And as a doctor you will have to explain things to people -- colleages, patients, their family, etc. Maybe the exact way the essay is done isn't the best, but I think that the MCAT should have an essay to test one's ability to synthesize ideas, express one's opinions, communicate, etc. Now I know that interviews are the best way to gauge these skills, but the MCAT is used as a tool for paring down applicants before the interview stage. If a school doesn't want to give any weight to the writing sample they can always ignore it. But some schools may find it a useful tool in the process.
i am also an M recipient. i was so mad about it that I had my essay section rescored. i haven't heard back yet. luckily my verbal score is decent, and I've received As in all of my english/writing classes, so i think i'm okay. i don't get how most people scored in the 25th percentile. (that's what I'm told M is) Shouldn't the curve be adjusted if so many people got Ms???
anyway, i've heard that it isn't really that important, hence it being a letter and not a number.
I also got an M. No one asked me about it in a dozen interviews. But I got a 12 on verbal, and many positive comments on my PS.
My thoughts exactly, Dio. I really like the idea of having an essay as part of the MCAT. Being a doctor isn't just about how well you can apply Newton's second law. You have to be able to communicate in an organized, articulate way with people who often don't have the amount of education that you have.
This doesn't mean I enjoyed writing the essay. In fact, I thought the topics were silly and that's why I've blocked them from my memory. But Dio is absolutely right about schools being able to use it for selecting who they will and will not interview.
Maybe I only agree with Dio b/c I'm happy with my writing sample score. . Regardless, most schools don't seem to use it for much or really care about your score.
Yeah Sweet Tea, I bet there is a correlation between people not minding the writing sample and doing well on it.
But to clarify my position, my WS score put me in the same percentile range as my VR and BS scores, so it's not like I'm ultra-biased because it was my best section or anything.
Personally I think having a letter "grade" for the writing section is worthless. It makes more sense to me that they release the essays written to the schools that you are applying to. Now...that would make the MCAT twenty times as stressful, but at least the section wouldn't be deemed worthless by everyone who takes the test.
I also think that what the essay represents (one form of communication) is very important. But the interpretation of any piece of writing is so utterly variable that the grading is close to meaningless.
If there really was a standardized way to write a "good" essay, then we'd all be the next Michael/Michelle Crichton. But there's not. Personalities differ, writing values differ (emphasis on content vs style), and in the case of the MCAT, HANDWRITING differs...
As far as I know the most weight I have ever heard given about the writing sample is that it is used by some schools as a tiebreaker. If you have two applicants with similar GPAs and MCAT scores that you need to rank, they look at the writing sample score to break the numerical tie. As such it may play some role in compiling lists for interviews which can be rather important.
Personally I kind of liked the section. It gave me a much needed breather in between the stressful sections of the test. Incidentally, it was also the section that I did the best in so take what I say with a grain of salt.
I know several people who got an M or N on the writing----but had 36--38 on the MCAT and got into many of their top choices.
I would love to trade my S in writing for a 14 in another section....
Yes, med schools can take the essay or leave it, and yes written communication is important. I just think the manner in which the MCAT makers set out to measure written communication is poor. The LSAT also has an essay question. Responses are not scored, but the essays are sent to the schools along with the score for the rest of the test. The questions for the LSAT are far more interesting than those written for the MCAT. Personally, I have no interest in writing a long winded essay about something I couldn't care less about.
Also, the scoring for the MCAT goes well beyond what constitutes good written communication. I looked at some examples of "good" essays in one of the AMCAS publications. These essay's were freaking great. If you get a perfect score on your MCAT essay, you should submit it for publication. You could win a Pulitzer.
Now that is a great idea!